Ottawa finds another diamond in the rough prospect.
The success of the Ottawa Senators this season has been nothing short of surprising. Injuries to Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Craig Anderson, among others, had many pegging the Sens as a sinking ship, likely to miss the playoffs for the third time in five years. Injuries forced the Senators to dip into their prospect pool in the truncated season, which as it turns out, is quite deep.
Surprises in the form of prospects helped to carry the Senators to regular season and playoff success, upsetting the number two seed Montreal Canadians 4-1 in the opening round. The contributions of Swedish prospects Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg helped carry the offensive load in the regular season, scoring a combined 39 points in 90 games. Come playoff time, yet another prospect has emerged in the form of 20-year-old center and Gatineau, Quebec native Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
After playing just nine games in the regular season, Pageau is amongst the Senators top offensive contributors in the playoffs thus far.
The April 20 edition of Prospect Schopping featured a list of four prospects who were speculated to make a playoff splash in their rookie campaign. Pageau leaves these prospects in the dust, leading all rookies in playoff scoring with six points (4G, 2A) in seven games.
Selected in the fourth round (96th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Pageau had been largely written off by scouts for his small stature, standing at just 5-foot-9, 163 pounds. His size presented no problem in junior, scoring 175 points in as many games over four seasons in the Quebec League with the Gatineau Olympiques and Chicoutimi Sagueneens. It was in junior where Pageau demonstrated an ability to thrive and find the back of the net in the rough and tumble world of playoff hockey, scoring 29 points in 24 games in the 2010-2011 Quebec League playoffs, finishing third amongst playoff scoring leaders and leading the Olympiques to the President Cup Final. Pageau would replicate his playoff success in the 2011-2012 playoffs, scoring 14 points in 16 games for Chicoutimi.
In his professional debut this season, Pageau was less productive; scoring 29 goals in 69 games for the American League’s Binghamton Senators but earned a call up to The Show April 11 to replace healthy scratch Peter Regin. Pageau has developed professionally at a rapid rate, notching an assist in his April 11 NHL debut, and tallying a total four points in nine NHL regular season games.
A player of such small stature has to carve out a niche as a scorer and play maker to survive at the NHL level and in a very short time, Pageau has shown shades of similar sized players, Martin St. Louis and fellow Olympique alumni Claude Giroux; possessing tremendous speed, energy and durability.
Using his small size to his advantage, Pageau combines high-energy and speed and like he did in the Quebec League, has found his scoring touch in the playoffs, exploding with a hat-trick in game 3 of the opening round series against Montreal. Since then, Pageau notched two assists in the series clincher May 9 and his fourth playoff goal May 17 in game two of the second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pageau also leads all rookies in the playoffs with +6, skating on the fourth line with Erik Condra and Colin Greening.
If he wasn’t before, Pageau should now be on the fantasy radar of poolies looking for investment for the future. Hailing from just across the Ottawa River, Pageau is a hometown hero, a feel good playoff story in what has already been a fairy tale season for the Ottawa Senators. The primary concern surrounding Pageau has always been his size however it has been proven again and again that with the right combination of speed, skill and tenacity, small players like Martin St. Louis, Claude Giroux, Brian Gionta and now Jean-Gabriel Pageau, can thrive in the NHL. His size has held him back but the Senators injury laden season has been Pageau’s big ticket to prove to Senators brass they may have a special player on their hands and for poolies, a solid long-term investment.
The 2013 DobberHockey Prospects Report will be released on June 1st. More information on all of the above players (as well as hundreds of other prospects you need to know about) will be in there. And for only $2.50 more, pick up the 2013 DobberHockey Keeper League Pack, which includes the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide and the 2013-14 Draft List.